It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is a critical key to your health and well-being, but did you know that there’s actual science behind your snoozing? Restful sleep can guide how much you eat throughout the day, how well your metabolism functions, whether your immune system can fight off infections or diseases, how happy you are, how you cope with stress, and how you process information. Virtually every system of your body is impacted by the amount of sleep as well as the quality of sleep you get each day.
How much sleep should you be getting?
Adequate sleep for most adults means at least seven solid hours of sleep. The quality of this sleep matters just as much as the length of it, which is why you should avoid exposure to blue light (from phones, computers, and televisions) before bed. In addition, making your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet is a great way to ensure that your sleep is as restful as possible.
Despite the importance of sleep, many adults are not getting enough sleep each night. American adults on average get only 6.8 hours of sleep per night, which can negatively affect cognitive health, stress, and overall wellness.
Too much sleep?
Keep in mind, there is also such a thing as too much sleep. Getting more than nine hours a night consistently could be an early marker for cognitive decline, according to Neuroscience News.1 The very same study also determined that those who consistently slept for longer than nine hours a night had smaller brain volumes than those who got closer to the optimal seven or eight hours per night.
What happens when you don’t get enough ‘ZZZ’s’?
As many as 1 in 3 adults in the United States do not get enough sleep each night. However, researchers are still determining all the ways that a lack of sleep influences men and women. Here are just a few ways that not getting enough sleep can sadly affect your day-to-day life.
The hormones that are stressed by sleep deprivation are different for men and women, although both genders may find the hormone imbalance can lead to an inclination to overeat. For men, the hormone released by sleep deprivation (ghrelin) stimulates appetite. In women, an appetite-suppressing hormone (called GLP-1) is reduced by a lack of sleep. While this difference is interesting, both conditions can result in overeating and eventually weight gain as a result. Yikes!
While you sleep, your brain forms connections that help you process and remember new information, including things learned throughout the day and valuable memories of precious time spent with loved ones. A chronic lack of sleep can hinder the formation of these connections and negatively affect short and long-term memory.
Poor Concentration and Foggy Thinking
Have you ever found yourself easily distracted or mentally “foggy” after a poor night’s sleep? If so, issues with concentration and problem-solving can pop up when you don’t get enough rest. Over time, sleep deprivation can lead to sluggishness, confusion, and overall problems with concentration and critical thinking.
Weakened Immunity: A Bad Idea!
At a time when you are surrounded by environmental risks to your health and wellness, your immune system is the first and most important line of your own defense. Getting too little sleep can weaken your immune system and decrease its ability to fight against viruses like those that cause the common cold and flu. This means you’re more likely to get sick after a combination of too little sleep and being exposed to those hidden germs.
Shorter Sleep = Increased Cardiovascular Risks
Your heart and blood vessels are also affected by the quality of your sleep. In turn, this can gradually disturb your blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels. When your body is at rest, it is also naturally healing and repairing the body’s blood vessels as well as the heart itself. If you do not consistently get at least seven hours of sleep per night, you may be decreasing your body’s healing potential and may be putting yourself at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Poor Sleep = Poor Mood
It’s no secret that you do not usually feel your best after a shorter night’s sleep. Cutting your rest short can lead to irritability, stress, and mood swings throughout your day. Getting adequate, high-quality sleep can help you feel more relaxed and at ease.
The Bottom Line
The next time you have an “off” day and feel uncharacteristically moody, tired, mentally slow, forgetful, or hungry, look to your sleep habits. Keep in mind that a regular, reliable pattern of waking and resting can help regulate hormones, stabilize mood, and aid the health of your brain. These facts can motivate you to set a regular sleep schedule.
And of course, please take full advantage of the spectacular nutrients that research shows can dramatically assist you to have better quality of sleep, such as melatonin, saffron, magnesium malate, and magnolia bark. Also, please don’t forget to prioritize the quality of your sleep as well by making sure your environment is optimized for a wonderful night’s rest. Sweet dreams!